The Four Essential Strategies To Have A Successful Blog

YOU TOO CAN HAVE A SUCCESSFUL ONLINE PRESENCE

Having subscribed to and read content from uncountable number of blogs over the years, I analyzed strategies by successful top bloggers. Why do some blogs occupy the top part of the blogosphere? How does a blog make the blogging A-list? What characteristics enable the successful blog to stand out? This article tries to answer these questions.

Image credit: teplis.com
The essential blogging tips and strategies followed by most successful and highly effective bloggers can be summarized under four major headings below.

1). CREATE A BLOG

As you cannot have a successful blog without first going through the agony and ecstasy involved in creating one (those who simply bought an already popular brand name may dispute this), the obvious first step is to create a blog.

a). Choosing a Subject or Niche

To blog successfully you need to choose a subject or a niche close to your heart. A subject or niche you are passionate about. This has two advantages. First, you will never get bored and stop posting to your blog. And second, since you are passionate about the subject or niche, you probably already have a huge amount of information on it and, as the heart rules the head, are actively involved in discovering more about it.

Also, it is extremely helpful to blog about your career and area of expertise. It helps even more if you provide solutions to common problems on your blog. This is better than having an opinion blog full of rants and raves unless you are already a top-notch journalist with an existing audience.

b). Choosing a Blogging Platform

If you are a beginner looking to get a rhythm, it is most sensible to go for blogging platforms that are free. Several such options like Blogger (see image below), Wordpress or the many other free options out there can be used until you get into a rhythm.

Blogger Homepage
Blogger.com - a popular free blogging platform

Learn More: Starting a blog - important issues to consider

When you finally do find your rhythm and footing in the blogging world, you can upgrade to any of the paid services of your blogging platform (if you still like it) or migrate to a totally new platform (this is always possible, if that's what you want).

c). Choosing a Domain Name and Hosting

Until you get into a rhythm and find your footing, do try out your skills on a free Blogger or Wordpress subdomain - these are the 2 most popular. After reaching near-perfection (there is no such thing as absolute perfection) you can transfer to a well thought out and keyword researched domain name. There are many good reasons to stick to a free platform until you hone your skills.

Through a Blogger/Google Apps integration, Blogger used to offer custom domain names where you get www.MYBLOG.com instead of MYBLOG.blogspot.com, in addition to free hosting. All that has now changed. Currently, you still get free hosting on Blogger, but only inform them to change your subdomain name (MYBLOG.blogspot.com) to a custom domain name when you procure one, either via Google Apps or any of the many registrants available on the internet.

Also, with Blogger or Wordpress, you do not have to worry about bandwidth or space. When you decide to get a custom domain name, it is important to research keywords associated with your subject and niche to help you to choose a good domain name.

d). Choosing a Design

Just as an attractive dress catches the eye of an observer, so an attractive template will catch the eye of your site visitors. This is very important because, in the long run, your visitors are unconsciously drawn again and again to your blog, and thus increase blog traffic.

In addition to having an attractive template, your blog should be as simple as it can be, very easy to navigate and able to load fast even over slow dial-up connections.

e). Optimizing your Blog

This important topic, also called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), has been over-flogged. It is imperative to note that this is a crucial part of creating a successful blog as you would want your blog to appear on the first page of search results returned by the big search engines like Google, Bing, and the rest.

f). Monitor blog and blog traffic

It is worth the sweat to keep your blog traffic in hand. This is easily done by installing a counter to monitor how many hits your blog is getting. For a more complete and detailed analysis of your blog traffic statistic, however, it is more logical to install Google Analytics.

In addition to monitoring your blog traffic, you should also keep track of your backlinks. This is easily done by claiming your blog at Technorati. According to Google, "Backlinks enable you to keep track of other pages on the web that link to your posts. What it all works out to is a way of expanding the comment feature such that related discussions on other sites can be included along with the regular comments on a post."

Backlinks, and the link juice attached to them, were previously given extremely high consideration in page ranking and increasing SEO. These have all changed over the last few years. The single most important factor at present in SEO is to avoid a Google Penalty on your blog or website which would usually result from effects of the Google Panda and Google Penguin put together.

2). ADD CONTENT

After creating a blog you have to add content to it. As CONTENT IS KING remember to:
  1. Add attractive content to your blog which will attract traffic.
  2. Add content regularly without lapsing.
  3. Add content frequently. The more frequently you add content to your blog, the more it will attract more traffic and subscribers. Each post will attract some traffic. Hence as per the Long Tail theory the more posts your blog has the more traffic it gets.
  4. Add original content. If not original provide links to the credits. Do not copy and paste blindly. Add your own spin to the originals (think The Departed based on Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs which inspired Martin Scorsese to create this blockbuster.)
  5. Controversial content can attract traffic but may prove to be a two edged sword.
  6. Add Readable Content. Long posts with bulky paragraphs are difficult to read on the screen. Lists of items are easily read and imbibed by the viewer. Use Blogger's jump break feature while composing posts to show a small paragraph (teaser) followed by a 'Read More' link.
  7. Upload pictures to your blog to illustrate your point. Not too many and not too large or your page will take long time to load.
  8. Check spelling and grammar before publishing.
  9. Make one post on one subtopic only. Do not make one long post about your Italian tour! Make multiple posts each dealing with what you saw on each day and interlink them.
  10. Conduct a conversation with your readers. Write your posts as if you are talking with your readers. This is because a blog is an ongoing conversation between the author and his readers.

3). PROMOTE BLOG

This step goes hand in hand with adding content:
  1. Submit blog to search engines.
  2. Submit blog to blog directories as these are frequently crawled by Google and other search spiders so your blog will get indexed quickly.
  3. Submit blog and blog posts to social networking sites.
  4. Submit articles to article directories with signatures linking to your blog.
  5. Join forums in your niche and solve members' problems. Put your blog link in your forum signature.
  6. Post constructive comments on other blogs.
  7. Provide easily noticed feed icons to make for easy subscriptions. Subscribe to blog feeds in your niche and read them.
  8. Reply promptly to viewer emails.
  9. Enable, moderate and reply to blog comments. Be nice to all visitors no matter what, and never neglect to respond nicely to comments, including the unreasonable ones.
  10. Advertise large subscriber counts.

4). MONETIZE YOUR BLOG

Undertake this step with caution. Do not hasten to add adverts to your blog before building up a sufficient traffic or subscriber base. There are many methods to monetize blogs:
  1. Advertisements: Could be direct adverts from the advertisers themselves, or indirect adverts from ad networks such as Adsense, MediaNet, ValueClick Media, Souvrn, Infolinks, BuySellAds, etc.
  2. Affiliate Programs: Including Amazon Associates, Commission Junction, Konga Affiliate program, Jumia Affiliate program, etc.
  3. Get Paid for Posts: Pay-Per-Post, etc.
  4. Get paid for Reviews.
In summary, the points discussed on this page are steps taken by those who have turned out to be successful bloggers. Blogging is hard work, I must confess; but it is sweet hard work. Although I cannot claim that any or all of the points discussed will work the same results for you, yet I am sure that if you consistently put them into practice, the potential for your success will be higher. So, the four cornerstones of successful blogs are: i). create your blog; ii) add original content; iii) promote the blog; and iv). monetize your blog.

And you're set to reach the skies in your blogging niche. Goodluck!

First written on 26th June 2011. Updated and Rewritten on 3rd July 2014.

5 comments:

  1. thanks, ikenna, this is an eye-opener for me!!

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    1. Hello Anonymous, my pleasure. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

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  2. Recently i ran into your website and so are already reading along. I think I’d leave my first comment. I don’t understand what to share with the exception that I’ve enjoyed reading. Nice blog. For certain i will keep visiting your blog really often :)

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    1. Hi leona, it is great to know you enjoy reading the articles, and also for sharing your thoughts. Thanks for dropping by, friend!

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